I am a long time Google Apps Standard Edition user. I can be considered as one of their power users because I not only test all their beta and labs features but also do it on more than 10 different accounts due to my association with various business and non-business organizations in different parts of the world. I have been facing an issue for the past week with two of my accounts (out of almost a dozen) which is frustrating me badly. Being a standard edition user has left me stranded without any support from Google (If you want to tell me that you get what you pay for or freeloaders can’t expect support, blah, blah, blah, I just want to tell you that I consider it a meaningless talk because I pay back to Google by means of not only “my attention” but also by being a guinea pig testing their pre-release features). I usually limit my personal rants in this blog by not writing about my frustrations with various services but I also let out my steam here once in a while. This is one such post and I hope you will bear with me if you have come here expecting something more substantial from me.
Slowly, Google is merging Google Apps email accounts with Gmail accounts so that they can let users use some of the Google services not available in Google Apps. I really liked this idea because I wanted to use Google services like Google Reader with my Google Apps account. When Google allowed me to convert one of my Google Apps account in summer, I happily jumped in. Later, when they allowed me to move my other Google Apps accounts, I also converted them to Gmail. At that time, I made a post about a minor irritant I faced with the move and warned the following
Unless Google works on this issue and sort it out before its forceful migration of Google Apps account, chaos will follow leading to further dissing of Google’s products. Unless, they make it easy for ordinary users to not only enable multiple signon and also use more than 3 accounts, it is going to be a mess. This will not only affect the users but also the admins of Google Apps. Google, are you listening?
However, it looks like the above irritation is just a beginning of a bigger mess we are going to encounter as they move more and more Google Apps account into regular Google Accounts, without making the transition optional for users.
For almost a week now, two of my accounts on Gmail (with different domains) are not letting me access my email through IMAP protocol or their Sync feature for iPhones. I could access those email accounts through browser (webmail) but not on my iPhone/iPad/other IMAP desktop email clients. It is not for all users in that domain. Only for specific accounts in each domain. Initially, I thought it was a temporary Google issue and waited for 2-3 days but it didn’t get resolved on its own. Now I am starting to wonder if it is a bug unknown to Google.
Freeloader Support Options
Being a Standard Edition user, I understand that I cannot expect to place a call or send an email to Google and get support. As any “freeloader” will do in this Freemium world, I digged deeply into the internet and Google forums. I tried every solution presented there even though some were just nonsense from my point of view. Some of the fixes I tried (well, there were many but I am restricting to some of the “important” ones here)
- Changed the password and checked on all these IMAP clients
- Removed and added the accounts (did that again after unlocking captcha)
- Unlocked captcha on all the devices I use
- Rebooted the devices while trying all the “remedies” to ensure that the reboot solves the problem (long hangover from Windows days)
- xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (replace it with any suggestion from the Google forums, web and, also, the ones that came in my wildest dreams
Nothing worked and I am still waiting to fix the issue.
The fact that there is no way I could take this problem to Google’s attention made me wonder if I should evangelize Google Apps Standard Edition to individuals and small businesses. Please don’t start the “you can’t get support for free accounts” argument. I fully understand that Google cannot offer support for free users. However, there should be some other option for me to get in touch with Google (say, an email support for an one time fee of $10). It is important to recognize that Google Apps Standard Edition users not only help Google monetize through Google Ads, they also serve as a “testbed at scale” for Google so that they can serve their paid customers better. Also, many free users eventually become paid users too. In short, these free users are not freeloaders and Google should offer some way to escalate those issues that are not getting solved in the forums. This is especially very important when they are trying to do a large scale change like the current Google Apps -> Gmail migration. If not, I am going to seriously rethink my approach towards Google Apps Standard Edition and stop telling people to use Google Apps for their business needs.
Update: Hey, it is not just me who thinks free users are not freeloaders. Even Google’s Scott McMullan retweets similar sentiments
- Google Apps vs. Google Accounts Parity Coming [Webapps] (lifehacker.com)
- Gmail Aliases No Longer Work in Google Apps (labnol.org)
- Multi-Account Support for Google Accounts (nofluffjuststuff.com)
- Google Rolling Out SMS Verification for Google Apps Access [Security] (lifehacker.com)
- Google Calendar Disruption Enters Fourth Day (informationweek.com)
- Sign Up to Test Full Google Service Integration with Google Apps [Google Apps] (lifehacker.com)